Brimming with genuine character, the new Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is set to take the world of compact SUVs by storm. Yet it is not just the distinctive all-rounder's practical and appealingly compact body form that sets it apart from the competition. It also brings together what were previously seen as entirely contradictory attributes. The Agility Control suspension serves up a unique blend of outstanding handling dynamics, exceptional driving safety and superlative ride comfort. Meanwhile the sophisticated, variable 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system joins forces with the latest electronic control systems to deliver consummate on-road performance and superb off-road suitability. It is precisely this kind of combination that lends the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class such immense appeal. The GLK-Class may be one of the more road-oriented Mercedes-Benz SUVs, but the "G" - alluding to the archetypal Mercedes off-roader - still has a rightful place in the model name.
Superlative performance comes courtesy of the powerful yet economical and eco-friendly four and six-cylinder engines. The BlueEFFICIENCY version of the GLK 220 CDI features the new entry-level four-cylinder diesel engine from Mercedes-Benz, which develops 125 kW/170 hp yet only consumes 6.9 litres of diesel per hundred kilometres. And the unshakeable foundations of the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class are similarly impressive. The highly robust body is key to the pioneering passive-safety setup, the extremely low noise levels, the exceptional degree of interior comfort - to produce that typical Mercedes feeling of wellbeing - and the high value retention. Furthermore, exemplary appointments and attractive equipment packages make the GLK stand out from the compact-SUV masses. Plus state-of-the-art systems such as the leading-edge PRE-SAFE safety concept and the Intelligent Light System (ILS) are available in this market segment for the very first time.
With its poised, confident presence, the mere look of the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class leaves one in no doubt about its intent to conquer the compact premium SUV segment. It is arguably the most sophisticated of all takes on this particular theme. And it displays echoes of the G-Class, the founding father of the Mercedes-Benz SUV family. Design chief Prof. Peter Pfeiffer takes up the story: "With the G-Class we created a style icon that has been a benchmark in SUV design for the past 30 years. Combining this bold concept with the latest Mercedes-Benz design idiom makes the GLK a vehicle of genuine character."
No other model in the compact-SUV segment, past or present, comes close to matching the GLK's distinctively expressive appearance. The body is beautifully proportioned (length 4528 mm, width 1840 mm, height 1689 mm), while there is a special allure in the interplay between the classic angular shape and the typical design features found in all contemporary Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. Here the unmistakable design idiom, consisting of taut lines and large, expansive surfaces, is combined with the typical body features of a practical off-road vehicle, such as short overhangs, an upright front end, slim roof pillars, a steeply raked windscreen and taut roof lines. Rather than being a stylistic end in itself, however, the body design allows the typical advantages of an off-road vehicle to be introduced to the more road-oriented compact-SUV category for the first time. Large angles of approach and departure plus good ground clearance make off-road ventures a sheer joy. The outstandingly clear layout of the body and good allround visibility, combined with the raised seating position, enhance everyday practicality and ensure relaxed driving, even in dense city traffic.
Superlative ride comfort, outstanding handling dynamics and excellent offroad performance
The AGILITY CONTROL suspension on which the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is founded displays a high level of flexibility and resolves a conflict of aims that particularly affects the SUV class, where chassis engineers want to create a vehicle that is both sportily agile and comfortably smooth yet one which can also cope with off-road terrain. If the focus is on sporty, active handling, the suspension and, above all, the shock absorbers need to display a certain firmness, which precludes access to the brand's typical suspension comfort and limits the off-road options. If the vehicle is set up with softer dampers to ensure suspension comfort and off-road capability, dynamic handling naturally suffers. The solution is "amplitude-dependent damping". In this system, the damping forces of the shock absorbers are configured to respond flexibly rather than lineally. In normal driving mode on moderately contoured roads or during slow off-road manoeuvres, the system responds softly, enhancing both the occupants' comfort and the vehicle's off-road capability. To ensure that this level of comfort is maintained when driving hard or performing abrupt evasive manoeuvres, in these situations the dampers deliver a harder performance, ensuring optimum handling stability. At the same time, the driver of the GLK is supported by speed-sensitive power steering, specified as standard for the V6 models, which provides the optimum level of steering assistance for the situation in hand. Parking and off-road manoeuvring are made much easier because maximum power assistance is available. At higher speeds, the assistance is reduced in favour of greater handling stability.
All the base models in the GLK series are fitted with 17-inch, size 235/60 R 17 light-alloy wheels. In conjunction with the exterior sports package, which is included as standard when the car first comes onto the market, or the off-road styling package, all models are shod with mixed-size tyres which, together with the AGILITY CONTROL suspension and the asymmetric power distribution between the front and rear axle, form the basis for a even better transfer of power between the wheels and the road. And the more effective this power transfer, the less frequently the electronic control systems need to intervene. The road-oriented exterior sports package features size 7.5 J x 19 light-alloy wheels with 235/50 R 19 tyres at the front and size 8.5 J x 19 wheels with 255/45 R 19 tyres at the rear. If the GLK is ordered with the off-road styling package, the front axle has size 7.5 J x 17 light-alloy wheels with 235/60 R 17 tyres, while the rear axle features size 8.0 J x 17 wheels with 255/55 R 17 tyres. All models are equipped with a TIREFIT system for repairing tyre damage. A compact spare wheel, which can be used on the front or rear axle, is available as an optional extra.
4MATIC: high-performance all-wheel-drive system with sophisticated control systems
The 4MATIC powertrain at the heart of the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is one of the most capable all-wheel-drive systems on the market. The driving dynamics systems ESPÂ®, ASR and 4ETS are superbly harmonised with each other; when they go into action their quality of control is so good that top-notch longitudinal and lateral dynamism coupled with superb handling stability are ensured under all conditions, both on and off-road. Thanks to the compact, lightweight and frictionoptimised concept, with a longitudinally installed engine and block-design main transmission and transfer case, the system offers various advantages over its counterparts equipped with a transversely installed drive unit. Fuel consumption, for example, is about on a par with that of a comparable conventionally powered vehicle, while the minimal vibration and noise levels rival those of today's luxuryclass models.
The 45:55 percent basic distribution of the drive torque between the front and rear axle - along with the ESPÂ®, ASR and 4ETS dynamic handling control systems - ensures effortless and predictable performance in all conditions. Optimum traction, maximum driving stability and superlative handling are assured at all times. When tuning the control systems, the engineers at the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center (MTC) made neutral self-steering behaviour a top priority. Only when the physical limits of driving are neared is there a slight oversteer tendency. All GLK models display these characteristics, even if road conditions vary widely. Whether it be dry or wet. On snow, ice or unsurfaced roads. If drivers never know whether to expect understeer or oversteer, they become unsure. This problem - a frequent occurrence in the SUV category - is solved once and for all by the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class. The newly developed multi-disc clutch in the centre differential supports the system if the friction between the tyres and the road surface is particularly low, for example on snow or ice. A basic partial locking torque of 50 newton metres between the front and rear axle produces a significant increase in traction whilst the high level of directional stability is maintained.
The "G" button on the centre console makes the GLK with off-road engineering package even more assertive on rough terrain. Pressing the button activates a special driving program which varies the shift points of the 7G-TRONIC transmission, "softens" the accelerator pedal characteristics and activates the ESPÂ® off-road function. In this mode the system is designed to operate with a higher degree of wheel slip while retaining directional stability. This control strategy improves traction off-road, particularly on low-friction surfaces such as sand, gravel or stone chippings. There is also a manual transmission mode, in which the shift paddles on the steering wheel can be used to change between the gears. A further switch activates the Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR) system, which automatically maintains a pre-programmed speed on steep downhill inclines. The off-road-specific body dimensions are equally impressive. The large ground clearance of 201 millimetres (GLK 280 4MATIC) and the short body overhangs (front 816 mm, rear 957 mm) make for favourable angles of approach and departure - 23 degrees and a maximum of 25 degrees, respectively. Meanwhile the relatively short wheelbase length of 2755 millimetres and the vehicle weight of 1830 kilograms, which is remarkably low for an SUV, allow the GLK to make good headway on even the most topographically demanding of terrain.
As well as a tyre pressure loss warning system, the tried-and-tested Electronic Stability Program (ESPÂ®) for the GLK incorporates a vehicle/trailer stabilisation function, which defuses critical driving situations involving a trailer before they become dangerous by applying the individual wheel brakes as and when required. The towing capacity is 2000 kilograms.
Effortlessly superior: new four-cylinder diesel engine and proven V6 powerplants
State-of-the-art powerplants ensure an exceptionally high level of ride comfort and impressive performance right across the GLK range. Plus fuel-consumption figures are low, as is the emission count. Customers have a choice of four model variants: diesel aficionados can opt for the GLK 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY or GLK 320 CDI, while those with a preference for petrol can select the GLK 280 or GLK 350, both of which feature a V6 powerplant.
In the GLK 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY, the all-new diesel engine generation posts an excellent set of figures. Like the V6 unit in the GLK 320 CDI, the four-cylinder engine with a displacement of 2.2 litres and an output of 125 kW/170 hp reflects the dynamism of the GLK concept as a whole and produces impressive performance coupled with lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions. Torque is equally impressive, with some 400 newton metres available across a broad engine speed range of 1400 to 2800 rpm. Technical highlights of the exceptionally compact and smooth-running CDI powerplant with rear camshaft drive include fourth-generation common-rail direct injection with an injection pressure of 2000 bar and a two-stage turbocharger system. The state-of-the-art powerplant propels the GLK from 0 to 100 km/h in just 8.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 205 km/h. The compression-ignition engine with extremely low untreated emissions delivers exceptional environmental performance and, like all diesel engines for Mercedes passenger cars, features exhaust gas recirculation, an oxidising catalytic converter and a maintenance-free diesel particulate filter as standard. In addition, the engine developers have succeeded in reducing untreated emissions by a decisive margin. The smooth-running four-cylinder unit consumes a mere 6.9 litres of diesel per hundred kilometres, emits just 183 grams of CO2 per kilometre and already meets the requirements of the EU5 emission standard. The diesel line-up is augmented by the proven V6 powerplant in the GLK 320 CDI, which develops 165 kW/224 hp and achieves a peak torque of 540 newton metres, enabling the GLK to perform even more admirably: here the top speed is 220 km/h whilst acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes just 7.5 seconds. The V6 engine also features exhaust gas recirculation, an oxidising catalytic converter and a maintenance-free diesel particulate filter. Diesel consumption is a mere 7.9 litres per hundred kilometres. Plus the engine complies with the Euro 4 standard.
The two smooth-running V6 petrol models - the GLK 280 and the GLK 350 - develop 170 kW/231 hp and 200 KW/272 hp respectively, all of which makes for rapid performance. Yet fuel consumption is only moderate. The 3.5-litre V6 in the Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 4MATIC stands out in particular, achieving figures similar to those of a sports car. It has a top speed of 230 km/h and races from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds. Both engines also comply with the Euro 5 standard, consuming 10.2 litres and 10.4 litres per hundred kilometres respectively.
All of the engine variants for the GLK are matched with the 7G-TRONIC 7-speed automatic transmission as standard. But the exceptional performance and low fuel consumption are not just down to the perfect combination of the highly sophisticated engines with the 7G-TRONIC and the friction-optimised powertrain. Further key factors include the relatively low overall weight (GLK 280: 1830 kg) and the exceptional aerodynamics for a vehicle of this design (cd figure 0.35).
Complete safety package for maximum occupant protection
In combination with the front and rear deformation zones, the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class's highstrength passenger cell provides a highly efficient foundation for the occupant protection systems. These include:
Adaptive, two-stage airbags for the driver and front passenger